Bethlehem Press

Tuesday, October 16, 2018
PHOTO BY TOM SHILLEAPaul Harryn, above, with one of the works in his exhibition, “Paul Harryn: Elements - Recent Work,” through Jan. 29, Santa Bannon-Fine Art, Banana Factory, Bethlehem. PHOTO BY TOM SHILLEAPaul Harryn, above, with one of the works in his exhibition, “Paul Harryn: Elements - Recent Work,” through Jan. 29, Santa Bannon-Fine Art, Banana Factory, Bethlehem.

For Paul Harryn, quite a triptych

Friday, January 13, 2017 by ED COURRIER Special to The Press in Focus

Paul Harryn’s “Time We Spend” (2016, ink and acrylic paint on stretched canvas) is a performance painting trilogy of three separate 36 in. by 48 in. canvases.

“That is part of the ‘epic’ series I am working on, and that is an ‘element’ of that series,” says Harryn.

“Paul Harryn: Elements - Recent Work,” an exhibition featuring several of the artist’s abstract canvases created in 2016, continues through Jan. 29, Santa Bannon-Fine Art, Banana Factory, 25 W. Third St., Bethlehem.

Regarding the title for his “Time We Spend” triptych, Harryn ponders, “How much time we spend on acquiring knowledge and how little we learn.”

For the artist whose career finds him “on the other side of a path, that many people have never traveled …” he laments that “we as a culture aren’t seeing that the road is closing ... “ For Harryn, “Time We Spend” reflects those sentiments.

When Harryn began working on what he calls his “epic paintings” in 2014, he said he was looking to create “paintings that were challenged by titles such as Homer’s ‘Odyssey.’” He wanted to “get that whole concept of what the ‘Odyssey’ was, and Odysseus’ travels and so forth, to get those into a painting.”

His first in the series, “The Odyssey” (2014, ink and acrylic paint on stretched canvas, 20 ft. x 5 ft.), is on permanent display at Kutztown University.

Similar in style to “Time We Spend” are two works from Harryn’s “Improv” series. Displayed together are “Improv No. 3: Bull’s Eye” (2016, ink and acrylic paint on wood panel, 36 in. x 32 in.), where a matador with a red cape challenges a bull, and “Improv No. 2: Aphrodite and Hermes” (2016, ink and acrylic paint on wood panel, 36 in. x 32 in.) with images taken from Greek mythology.

As an aficionado of jazz, Harryn listened to the music of Keith Jarrett “in my studio from 7 a.m. in the morning to 11 p.m. at night nonstop, seven days a week, for about three or four months,” while “drawing and drawing to the music.” For Harryn, the music itself became part of these works.

The smaller pieces in the collection of “elements” are what Harryn dubs “incidentals.” He explains that these experimental works are “extraneous” to any of his larger projects. “Incidentals No. AM12” (2016, ink and acrylic on canvas panel, 8 in. x 10 in.) is typical of the lively and colorful pieces that capture the energy or emotion of the moment.

Harryn’s palette changes with the time of day and with the seasons, as with his “Memories of Myra, No. 3” (2016, ink and acrylic paint on canvas, 32 in. x 32 in.) of constellations painted in the colors of late autumn. The work is a tribute to Morning Call arts correspondent, Myra Outwater, who died in 2015.

Harryn explores multiple mediums and builds his paintings up in multiple layers. “Time We Spend” started from a burst of color on blank canvasses and went through a series of multiple transitions before Harryn was satisfied with the final results. He estimates there are more than 60 layers of paint in the work. “Every layer is the experience of the time of the painting. That’s what contemporary art is,” says Harryn.

The work of Harryn’s studio assistants: Dylan Vernon, Emily Strong, Mallory Zondag, and Michele Vrentas, are exhibited in the upper gallery. Selected photographs by Thomas Shillea, including recent portraits of Paul Harryn, are also on display.

Gallery hours: Call 610-997-5453. Information: santafineart.com.